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  • “… The police are my friends!” a senior citizen blurted out in the middle of a police-community

  • meeting I attended in the South Bronx.

  • I've heard variations on this theme dozens of times from the law-abiding residents of

  • high-crime communities. These hard-working people don't loathe the policequite the

  • opposite. They understand what so many seem to have forgotten or never understood: Police

  • spend most of their time in minority communitiesthat is, mostly black communitiesbecause that

  • is where innocent people are most being hurt by violent street crime.

  • To put it plainly: Police go where the crime is.

  • In the 75 largest U.S. counties, about 60% of robbery and murder defendants are black,

  • even though blacks comprise only 15% of the population in those counties.

  • In New York City, blacks make up 73% of all shooting victims, though they are 23% of the

  • city's population. In Chicago in 2016, there were 4,300 shooting victimsalmost all

  • black. Among the two dozen victims under the age of 12 was a three-year-old, shot on Father's

  • Day, who is now paralyzed for life, and a ten-year-old, shot on Labor Day, whose pancreas

  • and spleen were ripped apart.

  • This is the reality that police commanders in urban areas face every day. And every day,

  • they get calls from law-abiding citizens in high-crime neighborhoods, begging for assistance.

  • So are the police friend or foe? Are they engaging in an epidemic of deadly racist violence,

  • as we so often hear?

  • In 2019, the police killed 235 blacks, most of them armed or dangerous, out of 1,004 police

  • shooting victims overall. That 25% ratio is actually less than what the black crime rate

  • would predict, since police shootings are a function of the rate at which officers encounter

  • violent suspects.

  • What about the unarmed victims of fatal police shootings?

  • As of June 1, 2020, the Washington Post's database of fatal police shootings in 2019

  • showed 9 unarmed black victims and 19 unarmed white victims of fatal police shootings. By

  • comparison, about 7,500 blacks die of criminal homicide a year.

  • You know about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, but what about Tony Timpa? In 2016, three

  • Dallas police officers held the handcuffed Timpa, a white man, on the ground for 13 minutes

  • with a knee to his back while he pleaded for help. His death was ruled a homicide, caused

  • by the officers' physical restraint and by cocaine.

  • The point here is not to justify police misconduct, but to rebut the claim that questionable tactics

  • occur onlyor even disproportionatelyin the case of black suspects. Indeed, it is

  • premature to conclude that the killing of George Floyd was a product of racial animus

  • at all, as opposed to poor training and the officer's unfit temperament.

  • Ideally, officers would take no one's life in the course of their duties. But in light

  • of the number of arrests that officers make each yeararound 10 millionand the number

  • of deadly weapons attacks on officers—27 a dayit is not clear that 1,000 civilian

  • deaths, the vast majority occurring in the face of potentially deadly attack, show a

  • law enforcement profession that is out of control.

  • Can police methods be improved? Of course, they canwith more hands-on tactical training,

  • more practice in de-escalation, and better techniques to control stress. What won't

  • help is defunding police agencies. Officers in depleted departments who cannot get back-up

  • when they face dangerous suspects will be even more stressed out and more at risk of

  • making bad decisions. Response times will increase. Cash-starved agencies will train

  • less, not more.

  • If the goal is to reduce crime, shifting police funding to social services is also a mistake.

  • For decades, New York City was spending one-seventh of all government welfare dollars in America.

  • Yet, crime started falling in the city only when the NYPD adopted the data-driven policing

  • that has now become the norm across the countrysending officers to the areas where they are most

  • needed. That norm is now threatened.

  • Sure, there are bad copsof all raceswho must be removed. That is true of every profession,

  • and always will be. But so is this: The overwhelming majority of officers are motivated by a desire

  • to help the most vulnerable among us.

  • Police are not the problem.

  • Racism is not the problem.

  • Crime is the problem.

  • The law-abiding citizens of high-crime communitiesthe ones who will pay the price of a diminished

  • police presenceget it.

  • If you believe that all black lives matter, you should too.

  • I'm Heather Mac Donald, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, for Prager University.

“… The police are my friends!” a senior citizen blurted out in the middle of a police-community

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Police Go Where the Crime Is

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    George Kan Yu posted on 2020/09/08
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